Reflections on Soil Presents, Pasts & Futures
- Publication date
- Soil, Cultural Heritage as Resource, Compost, Innovation, RIXC, Changing Weathers, Liepāja, MPLab / Art Research Lab
This page gathers together the media and text files related to the 'Reflections on Soil Present(s), Past(s), Future(s)' presentation that was made by Andrew Gryf Paterson at RIXC's Open Fields festival-conference in Riga, that he made on 1st October 2016. The presentation was based upon reflections emerging from the workshop of the same name that was co-designed by Andrew Gryf Paterson and Maija Demitere, for iWeek International Media Art Festival, Liepaja University, 3-7.11.2015. The workshop was commissioned by RIXC Centre for New Media Culture, supported by EU Culture funding, as part of the Changing Weathers project, and was co-designed with Latvian interdisciplinary artist-grower Maija Demitere. Significant other workshop participants included Paula Vītola, Anna Priedola, Martins Mamish and Linda Strauta.
Abstract Soil, and soil-like substrate such as compost, inspires this essay as a reflection on the art-ecology-heritage poetics that emerged from co-organising a trans-disciplinary workshop. Different temporal-focuses are mixed within the text to elaborate upon the potential of soil future(s), past(s), and present(s), in relation to artist-led cultural heritage and innovation. The workshop event was designed and undertaken in collaboration with Latvian interdisciplinary artist Maija Demitere, for the occasion of iWeek International Study Week at Liepaja University in early November 2015. The workshop used a 4-day process to explore with students and other interested persons various temporally-defined practical investigations into soils and our relationships to them. The workshop is contextualized by making reference to other artist-led soil works from art-science, bioremediation or compost-making perspectives. Our workshop activities included making compost in the present; questioning the past histories of soil usage in a contemporary Latvian market-garden; and innovative integrative designs for compost in public-space. Towards the end of the workshop process, our activity split into two foci, in which this author became involved in investigating geophagia—the traditions and practices of ingesting soil—and the making of 'gourmet soil-cakes'. This rather unusual outgoing activity sparked unexpected thoughts and feelings, ranging from relations to tasting and remembering one's displacement from childhood and to the land, as well as digging deeper into social-cultural history to suggest further exploration into suppressed Courland colonial history and dirt-based relationships.
Extract of article:
"Soil is now whole-heartedly spread out on the hand in front of me, under my nails, worn into the creases in my hands, filling my mind with hopeful thought. The philosophical and political science contribution of Ernst Bloch's writings in the 1930s invites us into consideration especially of the continual fold of the past in the present, what he names as non-contemporaneity. This blend has it's dark sides which he acknowledges in Heritage of Our Times, especially in regards to the promotion of 'our soil' and wellbeing by the then National-Socialist/Nazi German State when he was writing this volume in the 1930s Germany. However, on the flip-side, recognising the role often the past-in-the-present holds great utopian potential for change also: “The revolutionary knotted line, in which contradiction finally tangles up at a single point and rapidly presses for the revolutionary unravelling, can accordingly occur only in contemporaneous contradictions which are themselves the growing child Future or differentness, not in non-contemporaneous ones whose greatness is long past..” (Bloch, 1991, 110). Vincent Geoghegan has reflected more recently upon the influence of Bloch, carrying on his spirit in his article Remembering the Future, where he reminds us that that act of remembering is far from innocent activity: “What we desire will play a role in the act of memorizing”, and in the case of remembering, “hopes and anticipations will play an important role in the invention, distortion, selection, and framing of memory. What is most desired is missing in the often uncontrollable present but can be present in a controllable, if, in varying degrees, mythic past. Harmony, warmth, and belonging can live in the supposed golden days of long ago.” (Geoghegan, 1997, 17). I continue by paraphrasing Geoghegan—who wrote the following in first-person—by converting his words into third-person as a collective voice in my imagination: Our past memories will have a constitutive role in the forging of my present and future perceptions. Since we are not a blank sheet or piece of blotting paper, but rather a dynamic, constructive perceiver, we enter the future with a body of assumptions and preoccupations located in memory. The infinite range of possible futures is winnowed down to my possible futures through this interactive process. In this we can be said to be “remembering the future.” (ibid., 17-18)."
Bloch, E. (1991). The Heritage of our times (First published as Erbschaft dieser Zeit, 1962, Frankfurt am Main: Sihrkamp Verlag). Cambridge UK: Polity Press.
Geoghegan, V. (1997). Remembering the Future. In Jamie O. Daniel and Tom Moylan, Not Yet: Reconsidering Ernst Bloch. London: Verso, pp. 15-32.
Some images are those of my Soil Present(s): 2016-:
'Me an' ma Wormies' collaboration with Eisenia Fetida (red wriggler composting worms) in Aizpute, Latvia. Documented on Instagram handle @agryfp: http://instagram.com/agryfp
The majority of the images are those of my Soil Past(s):
2015: 'Soil Present(s), Past(s), Future(s)' workshop during iWeek at MPLab, Liepāja, Latvia.
2015: Bruce Ball's Soil Visual Analysis workshop at Scottish Sculpture Workshop, Lumsden, Scotland.
2013: Allotment gardening with family members in Malminkartano suburb, Helsinki, Finland.
2011: Raised-beds in backyard to get to know neighbours in Malminkartano suburb, Helsinki, Finland.
2010: WindowFarms Finland installation with Mikko Laajola & Niko Punin, Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland
- 2016-08-18 04:57:04
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